Community Voices Concerns Over Mambo Culvert

The washed out Mambo Culvert which Econetwork believe requires an Environmental Impact Statement and Community Consultation prior to embarking on building works. Photo: Marian Sampson.

 

FORESHORE Drive has become the focal point of the storm damage in Port Stephens, with images of the washed out culvert appearing on capital city television news.

EcoNetwork Port Stephens, a community-based environmental and sustainability network, have called for a thorough review of Foreshore Drive’s infrastructure and adjoining wetlands.

“Such a review is critical to ensuring that wetlands’ long-term health, as well as public safety, are not further compromised by future impacts,” said EcoNetwork President Iain Watt.

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Mr Watt believes a review will show how the poor ecological state of the Mambo Wetlands and adjoining mangroves can be restored to health.

“The study must include extensive community consultation,” he said.

It is understood that Council has already prepared an environmental impact statement for the replacement of the culvert.

“In 2019 Port Stephens Councillors unanimously voted to replace the culvert and install speed humps, signage and a bicycle pathway.

“Foreshore Drive was closed to traffic for several months during construction, yet no work was done to improve the culvert, the most dangerous part of Foreshore Drive.

“So, of course with the first serious weather event – a super storm cell – the culvert has been completely destroyed.”

Mr Watt said that a number of alternative solutions are available.

“Whether or not the road is restored, there are sound ecological solutions that can be applied to improve management of the area and reduce flooding in the residential areas.

“For example, several drainage points between the Mambo wetland and the mangrove/open sea areas could be opened, thereby better linking the wetland with the estuary (and Port Stephens Great Lakes sanctuary zone), with reduced risk of flooding.

“It should be remembered this is very low-lying ground and will always be subject to inundation.

“This will also allow clean water to reach and drain the inland area of the wetland, which will help clear blocked internal drainage systems and lead to improved wetland health.”

Mr Watt said improving the health of the wetlands will reduce flood risk in the area.

“For many years local residents, walking groups, Landcare groups and bird watchers have witnessed the slow degradation of the Mambo Wetlands Reserve, through tree dieback, weed infestation, feral animal incursions and the death of casuarinas due to erosion and seawater inundation, and mangrove dieback due to sand inundation.

“A healthy wetland will reverse the degradation and further reduce the risk of flooding to adjacent areas.

“But first we need a thorough review of Foreshore Drive and drainage systems.”

 

By Marian SAMPSON

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